Highlighting Women in Hip-Hop

Panel talks successes and obstacles of the craft



The panelists focused the discussion on their experiences in the hip hop world.

Joerenz Tabanda-Bolina, Contributing Writer

Feb. 1 brought Black History Month celebrations at the University. To kick things off, students were treated to “Women in Hip Hop,” a panel discussion made possible by Haraya, Women and Gender Studies Interdisciplinary Minor, Spectrum, Tess Digital and Turane.

Hosted by alumna Destiny Ross, the night began with a video performance from three female Cypher student rappers who showcased their talents and lyrics. Following the performances came the mainstay of the event: a panel discussion featuring four black women working in the music and entertainment industries.

The panel included Patricia Robinson, director of operations at HOT97; Margaret Ntim, former G-Unit executive and Coca-Cola marketing agent; Venus Rose, SJU alumnus and creative director/journalist for the Source Magazine; and Camille Evans, vice president of strategic operations at Roc Nation.

All the panelists have made an impact of their own in the world of hip-hop — Robinson has had a leading voice in talent recruitment for radio stations; Ntim has worked with artists like Nas; Rose pioneered a company branch in New York City that was focused on combining fashion with music and has worked with Kendrick Lamar; and Evans is one of the voters for the Grammy Awards.

The panelists went one by one describing successes and tribulations in their journeys, and highlighting what approach they thought students should take in their endeavors. Robinson reminded students that there are many paths to success; she got pregnant and dropped out of college, rose from her adversities and worked diligently to finish her degree.

Ntim and Rose, being the younger panelists, emphasized networking and getting internships when possible, repeatedly reminding students to take advantage of NYC’s nearness and resources like Career Services.

Finally, Evans advised students to always have a “side hustle” and to remember that “when you go on that ground and they start throwing that dirt, ain’t nobody on that ground with you” and  “don’t be afraid.”

The panelists reminded black females in particular to always stay strong, recognizing that their industries and the world of hip-hop are “boys’ clubs” heavy with racial expectations. They also pushed for students to create original content; for example, if a student actively engages in rapping or A&R activity, they should be sure to have a Soundcloud and vlogs/blogs.

Students around the room engaged with the professionals during the question and answer portion where they sought career advice. The session was short, but the room ran high with emotions, with one anxious student going in tears as the panelists galvanized her with advice.

“It gave a lot of hope to the young students who are more confused or unsure of what their path is,” junior Paige Seymour said.

The panel discussion ended with an opportunity to network with the women, as well as chow down on catering provided by the event organizers.

Senior Sheridan March said, “The event was very insightful as we were able to hear about women in hip-hop, but I feel that it’s important that we hear African American women in hip-hop and that we hear their voices so we can make a change as well.”